Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 10.djvu/481

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465
PHYSIOLOGY OF MIND-READING.

tried another object, and found that it made no difference what the object was. She supposed that it was necessary that the object should be secreted on some person. I found that this also was not necessary. She does not always succeed in finding the exact locality at once, but in some cases she goes directly to it: she very rarely fails.

In order to settle the question beyond dispute whether unconscious muscular action was the sole cause of this success in finding objects, I made the following crucial experiments with this lady: Ten letters of the alphabet were placed on a piano, the letters being written on large pieces of paper. I directed her to see how many times she would get a letter which was in the mind of one of the observers in the room correctly by chance purely, without any physical touch. She tried ten times, and got it right twice. I then had her try ten experiments with the hand of the person operated on against the forehead of the operator, the hand of the operator lightly touching against the fingers of this hand, and the person operated on concentrating her mind all the while on the object, and looking at it. In ten experiments, tried this day, with the same letters, she was successful six times. I then tried the same number of experiments with a wire, one end being attached to the head or hand of the subject, and the other end to the head or hand of the operator. The wire was about ten feet long, and was so arranged—being made fast at the middle to a chair—that no unconscious muscular motion could be communicated through it from the person on whom she was operating. She was successful but once out of ten times. Thus we see that by pure chance she was successful twice out of ten times; by utilizing unconscious muscular action in the method of Brown she was successful six times out of ten. When connected by a wire she was less successful than when she depended on pure chance without any physical connection. In order still further to confirm this, I suggested to this lady to find objects with two persons touching her body in the manner we have above described. I told these two to deceive her, concentrating their minds on the object hidden, at the same time using conscious motion toward some other part of the room. These experiments, several times repeated, showed that it was possible to deceive her, just as we had found it possible to deceive other muscle-readers.

The question whether it is possible for one to be a good muscle reader and pretty uniformly successful, and yet not know just how the trick is done, must be answered in the affirmative. It is possible to become quite an adept in this art without suspecting, even remotely, the physiological explanation. The muscular tension necessary to guide the operator is but slight, and the sensation it produces may be very easily referred by credulous, uninformed operators to the passage of "magnetism;" and I am sure that with a number of operators on whom I have experimented this mistake is made. Some operators